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North Korean Leader Pays Visit to Naval Submarine

Kim Jong Un
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un surveys the view from a naval submarine. (Image credit: YouTube Screenshot, ITN News)

The North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited a naval submarine this week and called for combat preparations and additional underwater warfare capabilities, according to a statement released by the country's state-run media yesterday (June 16).

Kim inspected the North Korean army's Naval Unit 167, where he met with several naval commanders, watched a torpedo drill and even taught the captain "a good method of navigation," according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The dictator emphasized the need to organize training to improve naval and underwater operations under simulated battle conditions. [7 Strange Cultural Facts About North Korea]

"The commanding officers and seamen should clearly see through the motives of the hateful enemies watching for a chance to invade our land and put spurs to combat preparations, thinking about battles only," Kim said, somewhat cryptically, according to the KCNA.

A photograph shows Kim on what appears to be a 1950s-era Project 633 diesel electric submarine, one of 20 such vessels in the North Korean fleet, built according to a Soviet design from Chinese parts, USNI News reported. The submarine appears to be part of the North Korean military's Large Combined Unit 597, property of the East Sea fleet command headquartered in North Korea's South Hamgyong Province, Global Post reported.

Kim apparently reveled in the navy's revolutionary history, "with deep emotion" expressed over "the immortal exploits" of President Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-un's father, the former leader Kim Jong-il, according to the KCNA.

The Party Central Committee attaches great importance to submarines, the younger Kim said, "setting forth the tasks to be fulfilled to round off the combat preparations of the unit and remarkably bolster up the underwater operation capability of submarines and modernize and fortify bases," according to the KCNA.

Kim toured the submarine's mess room, crew quarters and classrooms, instructing commanding officers to provide their seamen with "excellent material and cultural living conditions." Kim also gave binoculars and automatic rifles as gifts and posed for photos with the crew, the news agency said.

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Tanya Lewis
Tanya Lewis
Tanya was a staff writer for Live Science from 2013 to 2015, covering a wide array of topics, ranging from neuroscience to robotics to strange/cute animals. She received a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a bachelor of science in biomedical engineering from Brown University. She has previously written for Science News, Wired, The Santa Cruz Sentinel, the radio show Big Picture Science and other places. Tanya has lived on a tropical island, witnessed volcanic eruptions and flown in zero gravity (without losing her lunch!). To find out what her latest project is, you can visit her website.